Zimbabwe's highly inflationary economic environment has forced the country's biggest telco, Econet Wireless, to scrap contract line arrangements, prompting post-paid subscribers to pay in advance for talk time and roaming.
Local companies are bulking under the pressure of frequent price increases to contain the effects of inflation, in addition to almost daily power cuts and challenges with foreign currency.
Now Econet Wireless has halted contract line arrangements for its subscribers and placed them on a pre-paid platform.
"(We) require that you pay for your usage in advance. You are therefore, required to make a payment in advance towards your usage for the upcoming month," stated Kezito Makuni, acting chief operations officer for Econet Wireless in correspondence to contract subscribers dated 26 November 2019.
Makuni added that "the amount paid will be credited to your account and will ensure that you have uninterrupted service" during the upcoming month of use.
"Roaming services will continue to be available on request but will require an upfront payment which approximates the amount you would expect to use for the duration."
The company had initially put a date for commencement of the migration from post-paid to pre-paid for 1 December 2019, but has now rescheduled this for 1 February 2020 to enable subscribers to 'plan and structure' the 'advance' payments.
Earlier this month Econet explained that it was terminating the post-paid packages "until the operating environment changes".
Other telecom executives say current voice tariffs are sub-optimal as they are lagging the steep inflationary surge in Zimbabwe. The telecommunications regulator requires that any voice tariff increases be approved by the government.
"It's a reasonable move which is aptly in response to the economic conditions and inflationary pressures. The billing cycle for contract lines doesn't make sense because by the time you bill and collect the revenue, the amount would have been eroded by inflation," said one telecom industry executive on Monday, on condition of anonymity.